Throughout his lifetime, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought against injustice, inequality and racism. He had a dream and his message has been an inspiration for generations to people throughout the world.
The spokesman and leader of the civil rights movement would have been 90 years old this Monday, and Fort Hamilton Army Base in Bay Ridge celebrated the anniversary of his birth with a ceremony held on Thurs., Jan. 17 at the Fort Hamilton Community Club.
Sgt. 1st Class John Taylor, New York City Recruiting Battalion, welcomed guests; Sgt. Davida Walker, New York City Recruiting Battalion, performed the national anthem and Staff Sgt. Michael Fowler Edwards delivered the invocation.
Taylor introduced a well-received video depicting milestones in King’s life, and his belief in the power of words and acts of nonviolent resistance including protests, grassroots organizing and civil disobedience to achieve equality for all.
The keynote speaker for the military base’s annual observance was Capt. Naadira Brown, officer-in-charge of administration for the New York City Recruiting Battalion.
During her 18-year military career, Brown’s assignments have included administrative specialist at Headquarters, V Corps, Heidelberg, Germany; administrative noncommissioned officer (NCO) for the 18th Soldier Support Group, 18th Airborne Corps and respiratory NCO for Womack Army Medical Center, both at Fort Bragg, N.C., among many other positions. In 2008, she was commissioned as a second lieutenant with 10 years prior enlisted, active duty service.
Brown said that after being asked to speak at this commemoration, she listened to King’s speeches morning, noon and night.
“I actually had to do a double take listening to one of the speeches from Dec. 24, 1967 entitled ‘Peace on Earth.’ I literally looked and thought that speech could have been given on Dec. 24, 2018.”
She further explained that when King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech he was introduced as the moral leader of our nation. “I said, wow, what a weight to bear on someone’s shoulders,” Brown noted. “And I thought, who is the moral leader of our homes, of our churches, of our schools, of our military and do we have any. . . What will the speech be like in another 100 years? Who will give it? Who will be our nation’s moral leader?”
Brown encouraged everyone to focus on the love King spoke of and lived. “We are all tied together in the cloth of destiny,” she added. She concluded by imploring everyone to “listen to their inner Dr. King,” quoting his words, “The time is always right to do what is right.”
Fort Hamilton commanding officer Col. Andrew Zieseniss was moved by Brown’s speech. “She spoke from the heart,” he told this paper. “That was probably one of the best set of remarks I’ve ever heard in quite a while.”
Lt. Col. Juddson Floris, commander, New York City Recruiting Battalion and Command Sgt. Maj. Latosha Ravenell presented Brown with a special citation.
Floris commended Brown for inspiring his battalion, adding, “You bring resilience to our battalion every single day in a very difficult mission for my soldiers. I can think of no better speaker to honor the legacy of Dr. King than you.”